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Texans Hope To “Pep Up” The Offense

How will the addition of longtime NFL QB coach, Pep Hamilton, take the Texans’ offense to new heights?

When Tim Kelly was ushered out the door in early January, most of the fanbase breathed a collective sigh of relief. After all, the offense had been less-than-functional for the majority of Kelly’s tenure. His three-year stretch as offensive coordinator was bland, if not predictable, at times. The majority of his success can likely be contributed to the three-time pro-bowl quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who was recently traded to the Browns. After the void was created, many called for the promotion of passing game coordinator, Pep Hamilton.

Acing the Texans Offensive Coordinator Interview

Pep happens to have quite the extensive resume when it comes to offenses. It all started with a college career at the very position he became famous for developing, quarterback. He served as a backup during his college career, but mostly he served as the one thing he was built to do: coach. After graduation, Hamilton chose to stay at Howard University for three years as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2003, Hamilton debuted in the NFL as an offensive quality control coach for the New York Jets.

After helping with some notable quarterback development in the league (such as Alex Smith), Pep returned to the college scene to coach at Stanford. There he helped coach Andrew Luck for the 2011 season and helped him go on to become the number 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. Hamilton stayed one more season at Stanford, where to took his team to the Rose Bowl. He then returned to the NFL to join the Colts staff, and re-unite with the greatest success to date, Luck. He bounced around the NFL for a few more years, before landing with the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2020 season.

When he joined the Chargers as their quarterback coach, he immediately went to work with the number 6 overall pick, Justin Herbert. No one was expecting to see much of the Duck’s QB, but the Charger’s season held an interesting twist as Tyrod Taylor had his lung punctured by a team doctor after only one week into the season. Herbert went on to have a stunning rookie year, passing for 4,436 yards and 31 touchdowns. Those who watched the season unfold knew that Pep Hamilton played an incredible role.

Dialing Up Davis Mills

After the immense success of Herbert’s season, the Texans set their eyes on Hamilton to help develop the quarterback room in Houston. Entering the 2021 season, that room consisted of Tyrod Taylor and the Texan’s surprising first pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Davis Mills. Few people had high hopes for the Texans entering that season and fewer still had any level of expectations for the 3rd round pick. Yet fate struck again and Tyrod Taylor tragically suffered another injury in the week two game against the Browns.

To no one’s surprise, Davis Mills didn’t have the most striking start to his young career. His first three games under center yielded only 357 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions (four of which came in the infamous 40-0 loss to the Bills). However, week five against the Patriots showed exactly what Mills was capable of, completing 21/29 attempts, passing for 312 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Mills would go on to have flashes like this throughout the season, ending his final six games on a very positive note. It seemed that Pep Hamilton had done it again, taking a raw product and shaping something that stood a chance in the fast-paced environment of the NFL. Under Hamilton’s guidance, Davis threw for 2,664 yards and 16 touchdowns during his partial season (and arguably had the second-best performance of the 2021 rookie quarterbacks).

Early Opportunity or Overdue for Texans OC?

As previously mentioned, there were many in the Texans circles that saw the value of Pep Hamilton. Developing two young quarterbacks in back-to-back seasons, consistently tied to successful quarterbacks, and multiple years of experience in both college and the NFL made Hamilton a prime candidate for the job. In fact, Hamilton’s return to the offensive driver’s seat is so overdue that referred to it as one of the bandwagons to hop on before it’s too late.

The key to watch will definitively be the run game, which the Texans ranked 32nd in last year. Hamilton has had no shortage of success in the passing game, but developing a run game that hasn’t fielded a 1,000-yard rusher since Lamar Miller. With the addition of more blocking tight ends, a fullback, new runningbacks, and an improved offensive line, the real key to Hamilton’s success lies in success in the trenches. His first real test will come in the week 1 home opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

And what better note to end on than a quote from star receiver Brandin Cooks, when asked about Pep Hamilton: “You know, it’s been great. Got a lot of respect for Pep. Pep’s seen a lot of ball, played with a lot of great players. To be able to feed off him and learn from him and the offenses he’s been in before was helpful for me and to be able to have that feedback for one another has been great.”

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